One of my favorite books is The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. Economist Russ Roberts sums it up very nicely: “Adam Smith attempts to explain where morality comes from and why people can act with decency and virtue even when it conflicts with their own self-interest.”
Adam Smith defines a driving force behind this as; “Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely.” He means we want to be appreciated, given authentic praised and be worthy of such.
It is my experience that managers and leaders far too infrequently hand out authentic praise. I’ve brought this to some leader’s attention only to be told, “My employees are just doing their job.” “They know I appreciate their work.”
I have another suggestion, pretend they don’t know and tell them. “Natasha, you submitted your report on time and it is complete, thus I can focus my energy and efforts on my part of the project. Thanks.” Wow! That took all of ten seconds. Give it a try, I know you’ll get more of the behaviors you recognize and praise from your team.
Shoot me an email and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee if you want to discuss this or Smith’s other famous works, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.